The New Library Auditorium was overflowing with students last Monday as the first lecture in the African-American studies series commenced with a talk on post-racial America by Princeton University professor Eddie Glaude Jr.
Professor of African-American studies Winnifred Brown-Glaude introduced this “very exciting conversation” and commented on how “the racial landscape is changing” before Glaude took the stage.
Glaude explained to the crowd his opinions relating to race and the current election, saying the nation as a whole falsely believes a Sen. Barack Obama presidency can “wash our hands free of a racial past.” While blacks have certainly gained more prominence in society, he pointed out the “black under-class” is still rapidly increasing.
He said Obama’s candidacy marks a shift in African-American politics from the language of activism to that of government, and while an Obama presidency may not be “post-racial,” it would be “at least post-Jesse Jackson.”
Glaude also addressed the Bradley Effect, which references an election in which an African-American candidate lost despite a huge lead in the pre-election polls.
He argued Obama is assuming “racial solidarity” to prevent a repeat of such an occurrence. According to Glaude, black politicians are stereotypically “niche,” and Obama cannot directly identify himself as black to avoid being lost in obscurity.
He continued by saying the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s infamous remarks proved to some that Obama is indeed a niche candidate. Obama cannot afford to be angry in public, because this encourages racial paranoia. According to Glaude, evading race is the only way Obama can ascend to the high levels of government, and he asserted this is why the world is anything but “post-racial.”
He also said one of the main reasons for Obama’s success is the strong support of “young folk,” who live in a generation where the views of the 1960s “don’t frame the world.”
At the end of his argument, Glaude concluded that while it would be impossible for society to become post-racial, at the same time today’s world is not “ruled by Jim Crow.”
He said the term “post-racial” implies the repression of race, which he thinks is dangerous. Instead, he believes an Obama presidency would create a “post-soul moment,” creating a completely different aesthetic and style in regard to African-American politics.
After Glaude’s presentation, he took various questions from students and teachers regarding his views on race and politics.
One person in the crowd asked if Obama is being “race-neutral” by trying to avoid African-American stereotypes. Glaude said he disagrees, but since Obama is aware of typical conceptions of race politics and used it to his advantage, “we have witnessed political genius.”
Kim Miller, a freshman elementary education/history major, agreed with most of Glaude’s views. She said, “A ‘post-racial America’ certainly won’t come from this election.”
However, she does feel “there may be a point when race is no longer an issue, but it probably won’t be in our lifetimes. I think our country cannot be considered truly ‘post-racial’ until race is no longer portrayed as a negative factor in elections.”